ZAGREB, Sept 5 Turkey snatched a precious point against Croatia at the start of 2018 World Cup qualifying in European Group I as the two nations renewed their rivalry with an entertaining 1-1 draw in an empty Maksimir stadium on Monday.
The Croatians, who beat Turkey 1-0 in a Euro 2016 group stage match, were serving a crowd ban due to incidents their fans caused in European Championship qualifying.
They hit the crossbar three times in the first half before Ivan Rakitic fired them ahead with a 44th-minute penalty after captain Luka Modric was fouled by a Turkish defender.
But their joy was short lived as playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu drew Turkey level barely a minute later with a free kick from 25 metres which was deflected by Ivan Perisic and beat stranded goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic.
Croatia pressed forward relentlessly after the break but the Turks, who famously knocked Croatia out on penalties in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals, held on thanks to resolute defending and some saves by keeper Volkan Babacan.
(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Rex Gowar)